Sunday, September 12, 2010

Attack of the Killer Ceiling Fans

The High Mountain Lodge does not have air-conditioning. At 8,700 feet in elevation, even at the height of summer, it is not unusual for the temperatures to drop into the 40s at night, and by August, we are warning guests at the Lodge to watch their step in the morning going across the multi-tiered deck to the dining lodge so they won't slip on the frost coating the boards.

It's a different world up here--even from Denver. When the city is baking in 90+ or triple digit temperatures, we consider it a heat wave if the mercury hits 80. And on the two days this summer it hit 90 on our thermometer in July (courtesy of reflected heat from the deck; the air wasn't nearly that warm), we were willing to believe that there was something to global warming after all.

Instead of air conditioning the High Mountain Lodge has ceiling fans in every room. On warm summer nights, guests can open their windows and doors, and the fans will circulate the air and mix it with the outside breezes. Lodge guests, particularly those from lower elevations and hot climes, tend to underestimate the chill in the air. 

(Someone remind me to blog about the frigid June wedding Julie and I attended on the shores of the (frozen) lake just below the summit of Mt. Evans when it was 98 in Denver. We weren't married then, but our memory of the misery we went through sort of put the kabosh on any fantasy about getting married outside in a Colorado mountain meadow.) 

No matter how many times we point out the extra blanket in every room (and show guests how to turn up the heat in their room), invariably, they will show up for breakfast (in shorts and t-shirts with blue lips) to comment on how COLD it is. 

So when we get the occasional phone inquiry from people in Houston asking if we have air conditioning, because they won't book with us if we don't have air conditioning, we refer them to a couple who are our competitors (who are also our friends) who have put in refrigerated air conditioning in their inn just to assuage the heat-fears of people from Houston.

"How's that working for you?" I ask.

"They complained about how cold it was. I got up after midnight and gave them two extra blankets and suggested they turn off the air conditioning and open the french doors onto their patio. But they were afraid of bugs."

"You didn't tell them that there are no bugs in Grand County?"

"They're from Houston. They figure you're lying to them."

But all of this is a prelude to telling you the story of how we (actually I) suffer from our ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans have metal chains hanging down from them: one to turn on the light, and one to adjust the speed of the rotation of the fan.

At the High Mountain Lodge, some of the fixtures can be controlled from a switch on the wall, and some from the pull chains from the fixtures.

But they all have chains depending from them.

And, God help me, they all attack me.

If the High Mountain Lodge has cooler temperatures, it also has lower humidity and vicious static electricity. When I was a little boy growing up in Oklahoma, it was fun in the wintertime to play the game of "static electricity." You'd shuffle your feet across the wool carpet and sneak up on your mom or dad (usually your mom, because she wasn't as liable to smack you when you touched the metal frame of her glasses and sent huge amounts of volts of electricty coursing through her body). She'd just scream.

But the High Mountain Lodge has low humidity and high static electricity all year long. So maybe the fact that Julie and I own an Inn is a way for me to work off the karmic burden of torturing my parents with static electricity in my childhood.

You see, there are several rooms in the lodge where the chains from the ceiling fans hang down low enough to attack me when I'm making a bed.

You would think that I would have enough sense to avoid them when cleaning a room or making a bed, but I tend to get focused on projects, even if it is only making a bed. 

For the past year, I have had the misfortune to be making a bed and in the course of doing so, back up into the pull-chains from the fixture and experience a "static-electric discharge."

We have one room in particular (it's one of our most popular rooms), where the pull-chains for the lamp/fan fixture hand down just about at a perfect distance to attack me when I'm making the bed. And, I swear, every time I make the bed in that room, the damn fan attacks me. 

Here's the scenario: I get the bottom sheet tight, then I balance the top sheet on the bed so that it's hanging equidistant from the floor on either side of the mattress.

Then I shake out the blanket (which crackles from static electricity) and back up to make sure that it's symmetrical to the bed, and get close enough to the ceiling fixture that the static electricity causes the metal chain to wrap itself around my face and discharge on my cheek just below my eye. 

Then I scream and begin to curse and roar and stagger about like Boris Karloff imitating Frankenstein's monster in the movies and fall over one of the chairs in front of the fireplace. 

Nobody told me that innkeeping involved doing battle with static electricity. 

I wonder if there would be anyway we could get our electrical co-op to suck up the excess static electricity I generate when making beds?

Prolly not. Julie doesn't believe I work all that hard; an electrical utility would demand more evidence than an electrical discharge scar across my face.

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